President Donald Trump made it clear Friday that control over the upcoming National Football League (NFL) season would rest securely with officials and teams after Dr. Anthony Fauci said he didn’t see how a season could be played “without a bubble” amid the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, Breitbart reported.
“Tony Fauci has nothing to do with NFL football,” Trump tweeted, according to Breitbart. “They are planning a very safe and controlled opening.”
Take a look:
Tony Fauci has nothing to do with NFL Football. They are planning a very safe and controlled opening. However, if they don’t stand for our National Anthem and our Great American Flag, I won’t be watching!!!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) June 19, 2020
NFL aware of issues
According to the Baltimore Sun, the NFL has said that it plans to have a regular season beginning at the normal time, with fans in teams’ regular home stadiums, but Fauci questioned what would happen if a starting team member tests positive right before a game — or worse, if several team members do.
NFL chief medical officer Dr. Allen Sills, for his part, seemed ready to take on the issue. “Dr. Fauci has identified the important health and safety issues we and the NFL Players Association, together with our joint medical advisors, are addressing to mitigate the health risk to players, coaches, and other essential personnel,” Sills said, according to USA Today.
“We are developing a comprehensive and rapid-result testing program and rigorous protocols that call for a shared responsibility from everyone inside our football ecosystem,” Sills continued, adding that the league will be “flexible and adaptable” to the changing landscape and conditions.
The NFL Players Association said it didn’t know how things would play out and was keeping abreast of changes one day at a time, USA Today reported. Currently, coaching staffs have been able to return to the team facilites, but players have only been able to return if they are rehabbing after an injury.
Baseball season up in the air
There is still uncertainty about whether a second wave of the coronavirus will come to the U.S. this fall or winter. Some areas that have reopened after shutting down for more than two months have seen a resurgence in cases and a rise in hospitalizations, but even Fauci has said that does not amount to a second wave, as The Washington Post notes.
In the meantime, other professional sports leagues are also grappling with decisions about whether and how to go forward with play. Major League Baseball (MLB) has been struggling to come up with a plan for a shortened season that will satisfy players’ salary demands in light of empty stadiums that won’t provide needed revenue to teams.
While it appeared that an agreement might have been close earlier in the week, reports that eight Philadelphia Phillies players and employees have tested positive for COVID-19 led to the closing of all spring training facilities on Friday, according to USA Today.
The National Basketball Association (NBA) has meanwhile released a plan to finish its interrupted season with a limited tournament in Orlando and at the Walt Disney World sports complex, USA Today reported separately.